Playing out in Birmingham

The Kings Heath Centre for Space Exploration is coordinating efforts to organise one or more ‘Playing Out‘ events for National Play Day, which is Wednesday 7 August 2013.

“Playing Out” is after-school street play led by neighbours for neighbours and only publicised within the immediate streets.  Residents close their road to traffic for a couple of hours, usually around the time children are coming home from school. This gives safety and freedom of movement to young and old alike, with volunteer stewards at each road closure point to redirect traffic.

The emphasis is on free, unstructured play and people usually bring their own toys. Children are simply given the space and permission to play in the street, whilst adults have the chance to meet and get to know their neighbours better and experience a car-free street.

Ingredients for playing out:

1 residential street
1 organiser
1 helper
4 or more stewards
neighbours and children
The Playing Out website

In Bristol, where the scheme originated, the council has now introduced Temporary Play Street (TPS) Orders which allow a group of residents to close a road on a regular basis, cost-free for up to a year.

Along with Birmingham City Council, Dens of Equality, Birmingham Play Care Network and other local organisations, our longer term ambition is that the city council introduce TPS orders here, to help bring back street play to our city.

Our first step is to consult with residents on roads that we think well-suited to trialing the scheme.  Initially, we are inviting residents of Albert Road, Drayton Road, Gaddesby Road, Goldsmiths Road, Highbury Road, Woodville Road and Westfield Road to attend one of two public meetings that will be held at the Marjorie Allen Room, All Saints Centre, at noon on Wednesday 8th May, and at 6:30 pm on Thursday 9th May.

For further background information, the Birmingham Social Inclusion Process White Paper, ‘Making Birmingham an Inclusive City’, includes recommendations around developing more open spaces and developing a “Right to Play” campaign. You can download this document from the Fairbrum blog.

If you’d like to keep updated with the project, please visit or join the organisers google group mailing list.

29th April 2013  |  John Hill-Daniel